Grief 2 Growth

Karen Thomas- Back From the Light- Ep. 80

June 30, 2020 Karen Thomas Season 1 Episode 80
Grief 2 Growth
Karen Thomas- Back From the Light- Ep. 80
Chapters
Grief 2 Growth
Karen Thomas- Back From the Light- Ep. 80
Jun 30, 2020 Season 1 Episode 80
Karen Thomas


Karen was a physical therapist at Alaska Hospital and Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska in 1982 when she was the 32-year-old mother of a daughter, 9 years old, and a son, 6 years old. She and her husband had moved their family there from a small upstate New York town the previous year. Karen injured her back and had to have spinal surgery. Her near-death experience occurred during this surgery when the surgeon lacerated a major artery and she bled out on the operating room table. 

Karen's extensive near-death experience involved what is called a veridical experience, which means that a third party was later able to verify what she saw take place while she was out of her body. Karen has been interviewed about her experience on several occasions and is one of several near-death experiencers who participated in the documentary, Back from the Light. Her previous interviews can be heard on YouTube. Most recently, her experience is one of 12 to be included in the Journal, Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, A Journal of Qualitative Research affiliated with Johns Hopkins published in May 2020

Show Notes Transcript


Karen was a physical therapist at Alaska Hospital and Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska in 1982 when she was the 32-year-old mother of a daughter, 9 years old, and a son, 6 years old. She and her husband had moved their family there from a small upstate New York town the previous year. Karen injured her back and had to have spinal surgery. Her near-death experience occurred during this surgery when the surgeon lacerated a major artery and she bled out on the operating room table. 

Karen's extensive near-death experience involved what is called a veridical experience, which means that a third party was later able to verify what she saw take place while she was out of her body. Karen has been interviewed about her experience on several occasions and is one of several near-death experiencers who participated in the documentary, Back from the Light. Her previous interviews can be heard on YouTube. Most recently, her experience is one of 12 to be included in the Journal, Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, A Journal of Qualitative Research affiliated with Johns Hopkins published in May 2020

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Announcer
Hi there. Welcome to grief to growth podcast. Your host is Brian Smith, spiritual seeker, best selling author, grief survivor and life coach. Ryan believes that the worst tragedies of life provide the greatest opportunity for growth. Brian says he was planted, not buried, and he is here to help you grow where you've been planted by the difficulties in life. In each episode, Brian and his guests will share what has helped them to survive and thrive. It is his sincere hope this episode helps you today.

Brian Smith
Hey, everybody, this is Brian Smith with grief to growth back with an episode today I've got a near death experience are with me. Her name is Karen Thomas. Karen had a near death experience when she was 32 years old. She was living in Anchorage, Alaska. This was in 1982. She was a mother of a daughter who was at that time nine years old and his son who was six years old, and I'm gonna let Karen tell the story of her experience and But I'm really interested to hear as Karen had a, what's called a veridical

experience, which is an experience that can be verified by a third party, or something that happened while she was outside of her body. So with that, I'm going to just go ahead and introduce Karen Thomas.

Karen Thomas
Hi, everyone.

Brian Smith
I Karen, I really appreciate you being here today. And I really looking forward to hearing about the experiences you had I assume that you had experience of loss earlier in your life. We want to talk about that as well, because a lot of people that are listening to my show have experienced loss and how that impacted your life. But maybe you could start off by telling us about your near death experience.

Karen Thomas
Okay, certainly can. I was working as a physical therapist in the level one trauma center in Anchorage, and I injured my back it happened to be the second time I had gotten injured. So there was suspicion that I might have to have a spinal fusion instead of a laminectomy like I had had the first time so I got in touch with people in upstate New York where I had lived and I asked them to pray for me on the day of my surgery. And also was attending a church where I asked people and my, my co workers, just a whole bunch of different people to pray for me on that day. And I'm only mentioning that because it does play into my actual experience also so. So anyway, my husband and my two small children came to the hospital with me it was one of the first of the morning surgeries that day. And so they came and walked beside the stretcher as I was being wheeled down to the surgery unit. And then right before we went in there, they were sent to a waiting room to wait for me and then I was wheeled in and passed several other operating rooms because it was a fairly large operating suite and in to one specific operating room and then moved over on to the operating table from the stretcher. And I remember them starting the anesthesia now through the through the drip. And that was the last thing that I was aware of. until suddenly, I was aware of being in the upper corner of the operating room and up so close to the ceiling tiles that I was literally only like two or three inches from the ceiling tiles. And all of a sudden there was a lot of noise and ruckus that drew my attention. And as my attention turned back toward the actual operating room, it was just at the point where they were flipping my body from being on my stomach because they've been operating on my back over to my body facing upwards Because I had, they had cut a major artery and my entire abdomen was going with blood, and they were going to need to open it. And the doctor was swearing at the nurses. The nurse was rushing out the door sent to get blood transfusion. And that was just a general ruckus. But what I was feeling was complete, calm, and almost unattached to my body. A funny thing is, we never realize that the only impression that we have of ourselves is what we see in a mirror. Or in a photograph. Yeah, but I was actually seeing my own body 3d, which was weird in itself, and struck by how white My face was and how, how I didn't think I looked like that. I guess it's just the weirdest thing to say but but detached in any other way. Other way from it not at all concerned. And the only concern I had was, oh, my husband and children, they're in a waiting room. Somehow I've got to let them know. I'm alive. I'm okay. I've got to get to them, you know. So as soon as I started thinking that

I began to drift. And I literally floated through a wall, instead of through the door, I had come in through a wall and into the hallway that I had been brought down on the stretcher. And so I started kind of retracing the way I had come in, and I floated past these other operating rooms and down to a double doorway that went to the operating suite, and out into another hallway, and toward where I thought passively this waiting room might be. And as I'm going along, floating along, all of a sudden, there was a man who was rushing past open elevator doors. And a telepathic voice spoke to me and said, pay attention to this person. And as soon as they said that, I was able to my vision was able to be very close, so that I could see this person's eye color and their hair color, what they weren't wearing exactly what they looked like, and also could hear his thoughts about how he needed to get into that operating area quickly. And another man who I hadn't noticed in the hallway, I could hear his thoughts all of a sudden, and his thoughts were, what does that guy think he's doing? He can't go into the operating room. Yeah, he's, he doesn't belong in there. And so I heard this interchange of thoughts, and watch the guy I was supposed to pay attention to. And as he got up to the double doors, He stopped for a moment. And then the doors opened electronically. And he rushed through and into the operating suite. And at that point in time before I could think in terms of I've got to go find this waiting room. It was as though I wasn't moving by my own volition anymore. And my movement had been taken from outside of me. And I was, instead of going horizontally, I began lifting vertically. And I went up through the ceiling of the floor that I was on as these heat vents and stuff and up through into the next floor, and up through that and up through the next one until I went out the ceiling of the of the hospital itself and was out into the sky and I got up about as high as about a small plane might fly. And in Anchorage, there are mountains right behind where the hospital was, and And so I was up at that level and then I began moving horizontally again toward the city itself, the city of Anchorage and moving really fast. And at this point, for some reason it dawned on me Wait a minute, I should be feeling air rushing past I should be feeling that it's colder outside than it was inside all of these things and I felt no sensations at all just like I felt no resistance or sensations when I went through the walls and the ceilings in the hospital. So as I got over the anchorage anchorage sits on a bay and as I got to where I was going to be going out over the water, this dark cave like opening opened up and I was pulled inside and it was very black all around me, but way in the distance was a tiny pinprick of light. And as I got into this cavelike area, the speed became even way, way faster than it had been up to that point. And as I'm going extremely fast, this pinprick of light is getting bigger and bigger and bigger until I burst out into the light itself. And once I burst into this light, it was although I had felt calm before, I became totally filled with love. And just the most peaceful sensation you can possibly imagine, just totally surrounded and filled me. And I was puzzled by where I was I the environment was very dry and arid, and their worst there was stony ground. And I know I remember there was no sun in the sky. It was just simply light was from everything was coming from everything and

Again, a telepathic voice spoke to me and this time said, Follow me. And as I turned in the direction of the telepathic voice, there was a figure of a man who was climbing up a slope out of this area that I had come into a slope and then over. And as soon as they said, Follow me, I was directly behind him. And so I was examining him really closely. And he had almost black hair that was pulled back and tied with a piece of leather into like a ponytail type thing. And the clothing you was wearing was like, almost like a toga. It was like an off white color arm and it was like mid thigh length, and on his feet, he had sandals with leather ties that criss crossed up his calves. And as I'm following him, my first thought was the system. Jesus, because I expected I was going to be if I was dead, that I was going to be with Jesus. But I and I knew this wasn't. But I also knew that he he cared deeply about me that I was there in his care. And so he went up over the top of this rise, and I was right behind him, and the scenery change completely.

Brian Smith
So ask are you are you in your body at this time? Are you walking?

Karen Thomas
No, in fact, when I came out into the, into the bright light, and was looking at the environment, one of the first things I did was look down to look at the ground. And when I looked down to the ground, I had no legs or feet. It was as though that was it just wasn't there. I felt as though I was in the body that I had had been in in the past or in a body that I could not see. any serious. All right. Yeah. So Anyway, the environment was totally different. It was extremely lush and green grass. And there were flowers everywhere. And the flowers were all different colors than I had ever seen before and, and each of the flowers was glowing from inside giving off light from inside. And the trees in the distance, the leaves were glowing, everything was lit from within. So I was taking this all in and my guide I called him had gone on ahead and once again said to me, follow me. And when I got up and close to him once again, we were on the bank of a river. And this river was not big, you know, like maybe 20 feet or so across but glistening, clear, sparkling gorgeous, almost like a live water and on the opposite bank was my my father whoever died when I was seven, and my brother who was killed in a car accident, and aunts, and uncles who had passed away. And there were four other beings who were there that I had. I wasn't familiar, but I suddenly knew they were my four grandparents who had all died before I was born. And, and everyone was just like having this big reunion homecoming welcome. You know, oh, gosh, she's here. She's here. Isn't it wonderful now, and I wanted so much to be there on the other bank of this river with them. But my guide said, No, we have to go somewhere else first. So I reluctantly followed him down the bat, you know, around a curve in the river and into an opening. And in this opening, there was an enormous I would call it like a Greek Temple type building. It had columns, huge columns in front, it was white, like almost like a pearlescent, white. All of a huge amount of stairs going up into this big double door entryway into it. And there were spiritual beings who were there who were standing at the back foot of the stairs, going up the stairs coming down the stairs. My guide went all the way up to the entryway and again said follow me we're going in here. And as we went inside, it became the interior with a huge library. That was stories upon stories of books and scrolls, and things as high up as you could see on either side and along area down through the middle with tables. And being spiritual beings. We're at the tables and looking at Books and others were there with them. And my guide said, you know, communicated to me telepathically. This is the Hall of Records. This is where the Book of Life is stored. And he said, but we're going further through it, we're going through here to a different room. So we went down and back into the hallway and then entered into a much smaller room. And as we entered in there, there was like an oval areas. So you were at a big meeting room.

And several spiritual beings were already sitting and waiting around this oval area. As we came in, and my guide communicated to me, we're going to look, we're going to review your life and what has happened up to now and in the middle of this oval, there appeared like, as though you could see Down through it, like a glass bottom boat, but then also like a holographic screen that came up. And it started revealing my entire life from the time I was born up until then. And I wasn't watching it as such I was in it, I was reliving it. And I was able to feel everything I felt but also feel everything that the person I was interacting with was feeling at the same time. So I reviewed my life. I was comedic. They communicated to me that I could stay if I chose or I could return to my life. And they said if you do return to your life, we want to show you some of the things that will happen. And some of the things that may happen if you choose to go back and so they showed me those things. And I got the impression that these were people are being tested. helped me plan my life before I was even born and what the major things were that I wanted to accomplish in it. I know something else happened after that. And I don't know what because that's a blank area in my memory of my experience. And then I was in a totally separate room with my guide. And he said, I want to show you, your husband and the children in the waiting room. So I was able to see like looking through as though there were no ceiling and looking down into this room and seeing the doctor who had operated on me in the doorway, talking to my husband and my two children behind on and a little on a couch type of thing. And then he said I also want to show you the prayers of the people who are praying for you. And off to the side I could see what looked like musical notes and each of these notes was attaching one on to another He said, every prayer has its own vibration. And that's why it was represented as musical notes. And so anyway, then I saw back into the waiting room and I saw that my daughter was praying for me to live. And so her prayer was the last one.

And

at that point,

all of my emotions returned to me, my human emotions, and my love for my children and my husband and my desire to be there in their life. And so, I decided that I would would go back to my life, and my guides said at that point, you will not remember anything we showed you of your future life because then your freewill would no longer be freewill. And you won't remember that but you will remember enough. And we'll show you for certain of validity of the fact that this actually happens. So you'll never have any doubt because you tend to be an analytic person and you try to talk yourself out of things. So anyway, then I woke up and that's the next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room and my husband and kids being there, and instantly remembering everything that had happened to me, and having that same feeling of unconditional love and, and peace, immense peace. That was not only in me, but like surrounding me almost like a bubble of protection. And it stayed with me for weeks. As I was recovering over 12 days in the hospital I can't remember what Which day it was, but a doctor came into to check in on me. And as soon as he walked in the door, I realized it was the man that I had been told to pay attention to in the hallway. And so, it he was a doctor. He was the doctor who actually saved my life by doing the repair to the artery.

weeks later, after I was home,

and I was, you know, still in this state of peace. I had to go to have a whole row of staples taken out where they had opened up my entire abdomen. So I went to, you know, went to this doctor, and I made up my mind that I was going to ask him about what I had seen that day. So I told him, I had had an out of body experience, and I told him that I saw him and I saw him coming past this elevator doorway. I saw what head on. I described it to him. And, you know, his response was, how could you know that? He said, I was in my my office that day seeing patients, and I got paged to come to the or staff to try to, you know, save a patient that had bled out. And he said, That's why I was dressed like I was because I come from my office. Yeah. And so that was my theoretical experience.

Brian Smith
Yeah. Wow. That's, that's wild. So how did the doctor react to that?

Karen Thomas
Oh, he just, you know, he, he was a really kind kind person. And like I said, he all he said was, how could you know that? Now and then I believe he said something about, you know, you were in this operating room in a totally different area. There's no way you could have seen me coming. Plus We're still under anesthesia and all of that.

So he said, I don't know how you know that or how you could know that. But

you know, he said that I that is what happened, and I can't explain it. It's basically all that he said. And 30 some years later, after I got connected with ions, and I had a friend at that time who was a vascular surgeon, and he said, I bet he would remember you. Why don't you try to get find out if you can find him. And so I went online and come to find out he was still operating still in Anchorage. And I contacted him via email and said, Not sure if you remember me. This is when that happened. This is what you did. You know how he emailed back to me. And we emailed back and forth several times. And he said, Oh, yes, I definitely remember you. And I've taught a lot of other surgeons since then what I did that that saved you, and they've been able to, you know, save other people too. And I asked him if he remembered my sharing about my near death experience. And he said, Yes, I do. And he said, I've had other patients since then that have shared that they had experiences but none that were as detailed as yours. Yeah,

Brian Smith
yeah. Your your experience is very detailed and has a lot of the classic elements we talked about, you know, the, the tunnel, the light, the the life review, I'm gonna ask you, you mentioned, you felt really peaceful and love this whole time you looked across you saw your family on the other bank, he went to go to them, but you mentioned after you, you start feeling the prayers, and you felt your daughter's prayer You said your human emotions. returned to you. So up to that point, do you think you would have stayed if you had been given the choice? It says, How does that how did that affect you?

Karen Thomas
Yes, I do think I probably would have stayed.

Because although it's hard to explain the difference in what my emotion was, you know, I mean, I was feeling the, the joy and the love of my family seeing me and, and being glad that I was there with them. those emotions I was feeling but somehow I was divorced from the the feelings of my life as I had been living it up to that point. I could observe it more. But I wasn't. I wasn't in pain about it. I wasn't feeling emotionally distressed about it.

And I don't know how to explain that.

Brian Smith
It's very common, Karen. I mean, I talked to a lot of people that have their desks. variances. And I think it's something that's hard for us that are still in the body to understand is that that that almost sense of detachment, which sounds like a code word, but you look back at your body and even looking at your life. And I work with a lot of parents who have lost children. And I've had people say, Well, I know that she would have chosen to come back to me if she'd been given a choice, you know, and I've had the same thought about my daughter, but there's something about I think, when we're over there, when we cross over, we just have a different perspective. But is that what you would agree with that?

Karen Thomas
Yeah, I would. And there is a certain amount of

I guess you could say, Destiny based on what you had planned for your life and what you had accomplished or hadn't yet accomplished. That comes into play too. Because, you know, because I lost my father when I was seven. Yeah, um, I was able to feel more of what that impact would have been on my own kids. Right? Right, because they were raised almost the exact same ages, you know, one was older and one a little bit younger. And once I was able to tune into that, and, and also feel strongly that I would have a positive difference in their lives if I returned, and they would have been fine if I didn't, don't don't get me wrong. It's kind of hard to put this into words because

like in thinking back over it.

I missed my father so much when he died. But there were many things that took place in my life after he wasn't in my life. That never would have happened in the way they did. If he had if he had still lived.

Announcer
We'll get back to green To growth and just a few seconds. Did you know that Brian is an author and a life coach? If you're grieving or know someone who is grieving his book grief to growth is a best selling easy to read book that might help you or someone you know, people work with Brian as a life coach to break through barriers and live their best lives. You can find out more about Brian and what he offers at WWW dot grief to growth com www dot g ri e f the number two gr o w th comm or text growth gr o w th 231996. If you'd like to support this podcast visit www.patreon.com slash grief to growth www.pateon.com slash g ri f the number two gr o w th to make a financial contribution and now back to grief to growth

Karen Thomas
right They were good things. In many cases, they were positive things. They were things that I just never would have done. So I felt as though it was his destiny, to leave me at the time that he did. And it was my destiny, to return to my life with that knowledge and the knowledge of a life spent without a parent, to be able to be able to communicate that to my kids. It's really hard to put into words and also there I was there to support losses that ended up happening after I returned to my life. That is, as different ones happened. I would have like a deja vu type of a memory. Oh, this is one of those things that I was shown in my future. That. Now I realize, even though the memory was taken away from me that now that this is actually happening, this is one of those things I was shown that if I didn't come back to my life would have been totally different. wouldn't have happened in the same way.

I had

a relative who was very close to almost like a sister, and her 20 year old daughter died. And I was with her at the hospital when she lost her daughter. And I was with her for many months after that to talk to her about what it's like to pass on to be with her at compassionate friends meetings to help her get support from other parents, who had been through that type of a type of an experience. I was with my own sister Within two years after coming back to my life, she died from breast cancer. And I was with her through that experience. And through being able again to communicate to her what what it is like, in the afterlife. So lots of things.

Brian Smith
Yeah. It's really interesting how it all works together, you know, and like the way you put it, you know, it was your father's destiny to leave early. Yeah. And then you had the experience that you had, but it was your destiny to come back to have and having had that experience and partially because your father left when you left early. So it's really hard for us when we when we lose someone, whether we're a young child losing a parent, or a parent losing a young child, because for me, it was the opposite to say what is the purpose of this? What is what is the point of this, you know, but when it first happens, we can't doesn't make any sense to us. But as Time unfolds, then we can kind of see, you know what comes out of it.

Karen Thomas
And I think it is important, at least for me, it's been important for an understanding to, to realize that we actually do have a role in planning our lives before we live them. And there are spiritual experiences that we want to encounter, and that we want to grow spiritually because of having them and having what results from them. And yet, so many people have a difficult time and say, you know, there is no way I would choose this hard thing. I would choose everything to be good and to be happy and to be positive and never have to have this. But our spiritual growth is a totally different thing than that. Our earthly life.

Brian Smith
Yeah, I think that's a hard lesson for us to learn. Because you're right, we say, why would I plant Why would I just plant up Have a happy life. But if we think about if we just had a happy life, nothing bad ever happened, we would be spiritually, infants, we would be, you know, we would never build character we'd never learned love, we never learned compassion. You have to have some, some, some loss, some, some black, or you can step in to to learn those things. And and the compassion that you gained from your near death experience, you wouldn't have been able to share if someone else that if your sister hadn't gone through what she went through and you're pregnant and got to lose your daughter that gave you the opportunity to share that with them.

Karen Thomas
Right. Right. And that is one of the things that keeps coming back in my life. And I think probably with what you have started and what you're doing with your podcast, plus what you did with your book and stuff, you encounter people who ended up coming to you. And they ended up being people that you can communicate with and you can share with and really help in dealing with the circumstances that they face. And I find that a lot after my other radio interviews and with being associated with ions and stuff, I have left my email address, and several times and people will come out of nowhere and email me and I, you know, am able to respond to them sometimes talk to them on the phone and stuff. And it always amazes me how perfect their timing is to coming to me with what they come to me with. And then again, what I'm able to, to pass on to them. And so yeah, it's it's quite an amazing thing.

Brian Smith
So carry on What do you think are the lessons that we can learn from you near death experience?

Karen Thomas
Oh,

first of all that, you know, that we, the most important thing is love and expressing love to everyone that we possibly can in any circumstances that we possibly can and to help people understand that the ultimate of where we will be is in immense love.

So I think it's it's important to to think about

every situation that you face and basically say, Okay, why is this happening to me now? What can I learn from that? How can I grow to be a better person? And how can I be able to help someone else more as a person Salt of it and express that love that I found when I was on the other side. Yeah,

Brian Smith
I think that's great. I love where you put that. I think that's, that's excellent. I was talking to someone earlier today and she's kind of new to this stuff about soul plan and life reviews and all that stuff. And she said, I really am scared of my life review. So what would you say to someone that has a fear about that life review?

Karen Thomas
Um, I would say that,

that when I experienced mine, the only I guess you could stop saying negative feelings that I had, were came from within me. And those feelings were, gee, why didn't I do better there? I could have done better. I could have reacted in this way. And that would have been a better ripple effect going out through that person to everybody they encountered. But as far as judgment From from God or from those spiritual beings who were there with me? Absolutely not. It was completely, you know, we're just looking at this. This is helping you, you know, we love you so much and we love what you did and we'd love your courage and, and choosing this life. And, you know, no, no judgment, no condemnation, no shame on us or anything of that, to that effect.

Brian Smith
Yeah, I love what I love you saying that? And I want to emphasize that because I think because of some of our some of our backgrounds or upbringing, when we hear life review, we think judgment. Yes, they were going to be condemned. We're going to be shamed. We're going to be told that we were sinners.

Karen Thomas
Oh, no, absolutely not. In fact, that was my hardest. reintegration back into my life was that I had been very active with a church that was Very much built on that type of foundation. And going into that atmosphere again. I say to people, it was like fingernails on a chalkboard, whenever anything would be brought up about scripture saying condemnation, and judgment, and never mind, you know, Hellfire and all of that stuff, but just even any sort of shame on you. Judgment type of thing. It just graded against me so badly because I felt deep within me that it was wrong. It was not who God was. And it was not what my afterlife experience was at all.

Brian Smith
So you i thought was also interesting. You mentioned your guide. And when you said, the long dark hair and the sandals and the toga, I'm thinking Jesus, and you're like, No, it wasn't Jesus. So why do you think you saw someone in it? Wasn't Jesus?

Karen Thomas
Um, well, since that time, I have done a lot more research into what happened, you know, who might that possibly have been? Because that really was something that was like a big eye thing I didn't understand. And so I began doing things like meditation. And in meditation, I began to learn about spiritual guides, or other people would call guardian angel. I suppose that the terminology that varies from person to person, but anyway, within meditation, I was able to reconnect and learn that this person, this man who had been with me during my near death experience was my spiritual guide, and that he had always been there though I didn't know it and would always be there. Since So,

Brian Smith
yeah, I think that's that's interesting too, because I've heard so many people that try to dismiss MBAs as hallucinations or wishful thinking. And they'll say, Well, of course you saw Jesus because you expected to see Jesus. So when we find these things that aren't expected, I think that kind of pushes back against that, at least a little bit. You know, you expect to see Jesus but you saw, you know, someone else.

Karen Thomas
Exactly. And that, and I have heard the same sort of thing, you know, well, and don't get me wrong. I do believe that near death experiences are very much tailored to the individual person, in terms of what they need to learn to go back before they go back to their life. Right. Um, and so they are very different. But when someone tries to explain it away in terms of, well, yeah, if you're a Christian, then you're going to see Jesus and if you're, you know, a Muslim, then you're going to see Allah and it And that it's all just completely your imagination, which, you know, clearly it wasn't because I couldn't have imagined my doctor who came in to save my life who confirmed it to me that what I saw actually happen, right? And no, no people do not always see what they anticipate that they should see. Yeah,

Brian Smith
yeah, definitely true. So, when you came after you had your experience, and you came back, how long did it take you to start talking to people about it? This was a 1982. This is a point where most people hadn't heard of the near death experience,

Karen Thomas
right.

Again, because I was part of a church at the time that I came back, I would start to talk to people about it. And I would get a very negative response about you know, well, you know, kind of that's nice, too. You know, I'm sure that that made you feel better. And now that it was good that you could imagine that. And then it got into the people who would say, well, that that was all just produced because your brain was losing oxygen because you would, you know, have bled out and all sorts of explanations that I knew that I knew that I knew or not right. And so that was difficult. And I was glad that my husband was with me when I went to the return appointment with the doctor and shared that with him and had him confirm what had happened. Because my husband, I think, was even very uncertain about what is this that that she's coming up with here? This doesn't make any sense to me. But after he was there, in the doctor's office, it was like, well, it definitely happened, didn't it now what do I do with it? So, oh, yeah, it was difficult. And I reached a point where I just did not talk about it for a very long time.

Brian Smith
I gotta ask you what your thoughts are on this. This is your your opinion, I guess, because I find it fascinating that so many religious people, and let's say specifically Christians push back against the near death experience. They know, I grew up in the church and we were always taught to believe in heaven and God and Jesus and you know, afterlife and we're eternal beings. But why do you think they push back against the near death experience when you say I was actually there?

Karen Thomas
I think it depends on what that religious setting is how traditionalist or fundamentalist it is.

Because I think what happens with folks who have that

they have been taught to believe

What exactly what the Bible says? And not to vary from it? Or else it it? It isn't right or it isn't acceptable. And when it doesn't match up exactly to what they expect, and have been taught to believe, then it can't be acceptable. It's got to be wrong in some way. And so I think that that's, that's why,

but I'm not really certain.

Brian Smith
Yeah, I just I like I said, I find it really interesting when I talk to people who have had these experiences and they're there in the church. And you would think I would say, people say, Yeah, great. This confirms the fact that we we live on you know, that this person was in and now we have an idea of what you know, maybe heaven was like, and but but now they say no, you must not have really experienced that. So I just find that to be seems kind of kind of contradictory to me and I remember talking with a really good friend About I interview people near death experiences and all the time and I said, You know, I think Paul had near death experiences, you know, Paul the Bible, and Paul talks about being in the third heaven and he was praying and he had this experience. He talks about being on the road to Damascus, he sees a bright light. Here's the voice, he struck down and he sees Jesus said, this may sound a lot like near death experiences. My buddy goes, Well, sure, I believe Paul had those. I said, I do too. But I also believe that the person I interviewed last week, when they told me that they had a similar experience. And he's now I can't believe that.

Karen Thomas
Yeah. And I think it's, this is where judgmentalism weaves into things. Okay. Because, like before this happened to me, I was very worried particularly about my brother who was killed in a car accident, because he had an alcoholism problem. He hadn't attended church in forever. He would Get into firefights and things like that. And as far as I knew he had, you know, really did not have much of a spiritual life. And so my concern was, how can he be there? You know, well, he hasn't met this parameter and that litmus test and things that, that the Bible in the Church says, and so it was, it was such a pleasant and wonderful relief for me to see him there, you know, with my dad and with with others, other family members, and it was like, wait a minute, that cannot be right, this judgment about you have to cross this team must dot that eye and have have to pass all of these tests of righteousness or something, or else you won't be there. And it just simply wasn't the case. So I think that's why people do that.

Brian Smith
Yeah, I'm Really glad that you said that because I know there's still people that have that fear for themselves or for their loved ones. And I had a personal experience that an uncle who was was murdered actually. And I was taught by the church that because of certain circumstances in his life, that there's no way he's going to be there. And I just thought, that doesn't seem right to me, you know, that, you know, because I, you know, that we're all good people inside, we all we all do the best that we can. And if God understands that, how could he actually do these things to people? So I find it very encouraging when someone like you can verify for us that these people that that that Someone once told us could not possibly be there that they are going to be there for us.

Karen Thomas
Right. And I think it's the difference between Well yes, I know that God loves but I don't understand that God loves unconditionally. That word unconditionally is so important and so hard for people to grasp because Because so much of our lives here on earth is very conditional. And, and there is so much judgment that takes place. And so to even envision God being completely unconditionally loving is hard for people to wrap their head around sometimes I think.

Brian Smith
Yeah. So Karen, how did your life change after your near death experience?

Karen Thomas
Well, it changed in a lot of ways.

You know, initially,

I say I tried to fit that square peg into a round hole in terms of trying to fit my experience into what my religious beliefs had been before I had the experience. And it the more I tried, the more it didn't fit properly. I reached a point where I just knew For me, I had to step away from the church and to explore and to learn more. And that was difficult because my husband and his family have always been very closely tied to the church. And even though he knew what I had experienced was real, he had a very hard time. With this person that was so different from the person he had married, we actually reached a point where we separated for six months. And according to ions, they have said that most people who have a near death experience who are married, I think it's around 78% don't end up staying married because they have, they are just such a different person after having their near death experience, and we were lucky that we were down, we were able to work with through counseling and we were able to work through and find our way back to our essential selves and our love. And in June we will have been married 49 years. Oh, wow. Congratulations. Wow. So that's that's a very good thing, but it was a difficult integrating period. Yeah. Now and I did go through a lot of painful losses. You know, I have the loss of my sister from breast cancer within two years after my near death experience. And I had my my dear relatives daughter who passed away, she had one of these fluky drug, alcohol and Tylenol, mismatches that caused her liver to get be destroyed and wasn't able to get a transplant in time and that incident that I was able to be there for her Just so many things that have been challenging, and I actually nearly died a second time myself but didn't have a near death experience. Again, I had an incident of almost bleeding to death after a hip replacement surgery and losing the use of my leg for completely for about a year and partially has returned. So lots of different challenges, that that made life difficult, but then also came to the point of finding out about other near death experiencers getting to relate to them, getting to find out how the things that I learned could be helpful to other people.

Just lots of changes.

Brian Smith
Yeah, well, you know, the thing about I guess when we have these experiments, they're so profound, but we come back to the world that we all live in which is still full of challenges and and ups and downs, but Maybe a little bit different perspective on it having had the higher perspective you can look at it from

Karen Thomas
definitely a different perspective. Yeah, really helps.

Brian Smith
I you touched on something and we touch just talked about something, you know, this integration when you come back and I know you participate in a documentary called back from the light. I think it's something that a lot of people are not maybe not aware of who have looked at in near death experiences and depth, this reintegration back into this, this world that we live in. And you mentioned the divorce rate because people come back a lot of times are literally different people, their spouses don't recognize them. So yeah, what were some exactly what are some of the things that were discussed in the documentary you participated in?

Karen Thomas
Well, there was that

there was also the difference in spirituality and sometimes the the new abilities of being able to have high levels of intuition Be able to relate to other people in ways that you don't expect. You get, it's almost as though you can feel the emotion of the people that as you interact with them, you know what they're dealing with. And when you try to, to speak up, it can be very unwelcome from the person that you're relating to. Yeah. So these different internal things within you that are so different. I tend to before my near death experience, I did tend to be much more judgmental of other people. I, I wanted the best for my kids. And so I was very hard on them. I was, you know, nothing was good enough, a lot of times, you know. And so to come back and to learn how how wrong that was. To begin to change within myself, if it wasn't instantaneous, there was lots of, of that old self coming forward and then my new self fitting back in. It's it's a struggle in in many different ways. A lot of people will say, oh, gosh, those near death experiences. Those are wonderful. I want one of those. How come I can't have one of those? Well, you have no idea. I think you see the the good part of what the experience is, but then you don't really realize how it changes you so much. And how how many people that were in your life missed the old you. Yeah. And what the

Unknown Speaker
old you did push you back into that? Yeah.

Karen Thomas
And how difficult it is to kind of bring that all back into your everyday life.

Brian Smith
Yeah, I think there's a reason why when we come to this place, there's the This forgetfulness that we have and when you have the near death experience, you're kind of waking up to the way things are supposed to be or the way things could be, I should say. So I would imagine there's some, some somewhat of a mourning of like, you know, why don't you why doesn't everybody understand that we're all one that it's all about unconditional love and, and yeah, that's sweating the small stuff.

Karen Thomas
Yep. And one of the women in the documentary, and again, she, her experience was a long, long time ago. But I want to say like maybe in the 60s, and she was really kind of a very young person, and was so excited about wanting to share her experience and was a part of the Catholic Church and was recommended to speak to her priest and talk to her priest and had the priests say, that's crazy talk and if you don't stop there, I'm going to recommend that they send you to a mental health hospital. That type of a harsh reaction and how difficult it was for her to, to come from that point to being able to, to realize the validity of her experience and the harshness of how some people would view it as just simply being you were crazy. you imagined it?

Brian Smith
Yeah, well, it's really good. One of the good things is developed over the last several decades, I guess it's organizations like ions, which we've mentioned a couple of times, the International Association for near death studies, which is a place where people who have had these experiences can come out be themselves talk to other people have had the experiences realize that they're not crazy. understand these things are documented. There's a database and D rf.org. Dr. Jeffrey long put together that's got over 4000 experiences. I don't even know the numbers now. It's probably probably person 5000 But I one of them that's in there. Yeah, it's actually a very common experience. And it has been for thousands for as long as people been around, it's become more common, as we've had more abilities to say people over solicitation as why kind of exploded, I guess in the 70s. Because we could bring people back. Who would have otherwise just, you know, continue to cross over. But I'm glad that people like you are speaking out and people can, can read books about it now and can watch documentaries. And you were telling me before we got started that Johns Hopkins is doing a project about near death experiences.

Karen Thomas
Right. It's through there. Hang on a second. Let me see if I can get the name of the journal.

Brian Smith
Oh, actually, I think I have it here, Karen. Oh, do you? The narrative inquiry inquiry inquiry in bioethics, a journal of qualitative research Which is affiliated with Johns Hopkins. So I kind of stumbled all over that narrative in Korea in bioethics journal qualitative research. And that's sponsored by Johns Hopkins. So tell us about what that's going to have in it.

Karen Thomas
Well, there's going to be the narrative of 12 different near death experiences. I'm one of those Chris bats that I mentioned to you before. Yeah. His is also one of those 12 that are in there. And those narratives are presented in the journal. And then in addition, what they are looking at and and asking, they asked each of us questions about how things went for us in terms of our interrelationships with the medical profession. And what they're looking to do is to train the medical personnel to respond better to people who have had near death experiences and then actually open up and share them. Because many doctors and many more doctors, the nurses, I think but many medical personnel have a tendency to just really shut off anyone, or worse yet, send them to the psych ward and get them put on psychiatric drugs, depression, drugs, things like that. And so they are really trying to bring the medical profession up to speed in terms of knowing that these experiences happen knowing that they're not like of accident to the brain that's creating a hallucination or, and knowing how to help a person reintegrate back into their life better, as opposed to shuffling them away and or denying what they're sharing with you.

Brian Smith
Yeah, I think that's a great step. That'd be really curious to know what the medical profession you know what they're doing with with the N d at least are acknowledging now. Something They need to address and I interviewed a guy named Raymond O'Brien, who had a really profound experience. He's in England. So he's working with the medical profession hand in hand, as an intuitive and as an experiencer. He's actually a healer also working with them to teach them how to deal with people who have had these experiences because as I said, they're very common, and a lot of people keep them keep them to themselves. And you talked about doctors and nurses. Another thing I found interesting over the years, I've been studying this. Nurses tend to believe it a lot more than doctors do, maybe because of who they are, but also because the nurses are the ones that are around people when they have them. And they see these things and they and they know that someone you know is speaking to someone else that's on the other side as they're getting ready to cross and things like that. And I've actually seen some evidence I interviewed a woman who was a nurse in the hospital and someone had a near death experience and it's described as a tennis shoe being on the ledge outside she went and she found that there was there was a tennis shoe There. So that's undeniable evidence this person somehow was outside of the hospital, you know, flying around. Yeah.

Karen Thomas
Yeah. And it, you know, another segment of society that has a difficult time

is military. Because a lot of the military people, if they have a near death experience after being severely wounded, it's particularly difficult for them to relate. Yeah. Because the entire culture of the military is so I guess you could say, so cut and dried and so not open to spiritual experience. Right. And, you know, it's very tough for military personnel. And they have, they have had some of the most negative responses from even the medical personnel around them that are our military. And that's something that's being focused on. More to is How can we help the military people and help the medical professionals dealing with them? deal with them better? And more appropriately?

Brian Smith
Yeah, well, yeah. You mentioned the military I talked to I interviewed Tony Woody, who had a pretty profound experience. And he's working with the military and Reverend bill McDonald, who said, a couple of near death experience, I know he's working with the military. So it's more I think we're moving in the right direction. And for people who haven't had the experience, and you said, a lot of us are kind of like, Oh, I wish I could have one of those experiences. We know it's no, you don't want to have one. But we can learn the lessons from them. We can, we can talk to people have had them, listen to people that have had them. learn the lessons from them without having actually having to have one. And understand that, you know, it's all about love, that it's that the love from from the other side, from our Creator, from our source from God is unconditional, that we live every day. So if we know we're going to have a life of you So who we have that life review? we don't we don't have to fear it. But if when we do, it's only ourselves that are looking at it. It's not someone saying

Karen Thomas
you did a bad thing. Exactly. That's, that's perfect.

And that's so true. Now, how people who hear about near death experiences but haven't had anything like that themselves. I think they call it an AI ns the benign virus, which is basically that if you're not an experiencer, but you say go to ions meetings, or just watch videos on the internet or get to meet people who have had near death experiences and listen to the lessons from them, that it's actually helps you and changes your internal viewpoint and your internal spirituality. Like the person who had The actual experience.

Brian Smith
Yeah, I know. Dr. Ken ring has done research on that. And I read his book. It was excellent, excellent book about, you know that just a very thing that just by studying these experiences you can get. So when you have no experience, there's good and there's bad, right? You get lessons, but you also get the problems with the integration. We can get the lessons without without having to go through the integration point. So that's, so we should all

Karen Thomas
Yeah, and all the better. Yeah.

Brian Smith
But I, I really appreciate you sharing your story. And I love putting this out there because I want everybody to hear about hear stuff like this. I want everybody to have that hope and have that encouragement. To know you know who we are to know it sounds and almost sounds too good to be true. I think when people first hear it, you know that. It can't It can't be that good. But I think it really is.

Karen Thomas
Oh, I know it really is and I That's one of the best blessings of actually having had it is that you no longer believe, you know, and there's a big difference between what you believe and what you know, you know, it's a whole level difference. And the more people that we can get to understand and really intrinsically know within them, yes, this is real. This is what is true. But luckily, I think most people have kind of a, an internal antenna that really tunes into honesty and truth. Yeah, you know, a level of deep truth. And I think that's part of why when, when they're exposed to other people's stories of what they experienced and get to meet them and talk to them. They just innately Well feel you know this this is right. within their own spirit.

Brian Smith
Yeah, I think we're all looking for that affirmation. I think it's like you said, it's kinda like it's in there. We know it's in there. It's it's, it's kind of like something that we've forgotten, right? It's it's kinda like what you said when when they showed you what was going to happen this is you're not going to remember it. So when we hear these stories, we're kind of like, sound like we're learning. It's more like we're remembering. Absolutely. And I think you like what you said very, right. We had this this antenna that seeks that out that that resonates. So when we hear it. We're like, Yeah, that's it. That's that's what it really is. Yeah. Karen, I want to thank you very much for doing this has been a real pleasure to meet you and to learn your story. I appreciate you sharing it so freely. You know, you're sharing your life with us and the lessons from it and I hope it helps somebody that's listening.

Karen Thomas
I hope so, too. That's what it's all about. That's what I like to do.

Brian Smith
Yeah. So, Kara, I know you don't have a website. You don't have a book yourself. voting. Do you? Do if people want to reach out to you, there's a way that people can reach you.

Karen Thomas
Sure, my email address that's as easy as anything So,

Brian Smith
okay. And that's a bland sit@live.com bl A and C eth. live.com at live.com. Great. So, yeah, people wanted to email you. You're again, it's been, it's been a real pleasure meeting you, and hope you enjoy the rest of your day.

Karen Thomas
Thank you, you do the same.

Brian Smith
Thank you. Bye. Bye. Well, I hope you enjoyed the episode, I want to make it really easy for you to reach me. So just send me a text 231996 and simply text the word growth gr o w th. In fact you can right now just say hey Siri, send the message. 231996 and when Siri asked you what you want to send, just say growth. You can do the same thing with Okay, Google. Thanks a lot. Have a wonderful day.

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